If you know anything about the South, you know how necessary and holy Sweet Tea is to its connoisseurs. Some would say that sweet tea runs in the veins of those that call the great South their home.
To really understand sweet tea, you must first know the facts. Below you will see a diagram I have created, outlining the anatomy of a truly southern sweet tea.
What is sweet tea? Let’s break it down.
First, you have freshly brewed black tea, then you have 3 lbs of sugar. Together, you have sweet tea (lemon optional).
For many, this is considered the backbone of a nation. This drink, this seemingly irrelevant iced beverage is, at its finest, a source of power and longevity in the lives of any dignified southerner. In many homes you won’t even hear the word “unsweetened” uttered.
For many years, sweet tea was my main squeeze, and Cuban Coffee was not.
Cafécito, more commonly referred to as Café Cubano (Cuban Coffee) is basically an espresso, Cuban-style. It’s a very strong, very sweet coffee made through the use of an espresso stove top coffee-maker.
As it’s brewed, it drips out into a little pot and is mixed with several teaspoons of sugar. From this sugary mixture, the coffee brewer makes the espumita (a sweet, frothy foam). From here, you can add cold milk to create Cortadito, or add the Cafécito to your hot milk to create Café con Leche.
Just as Sweet Tea provides sustenance to the hordes of Southerners who consume it daily, Cafécito is pure Hellion Juice and will kick start your day (or night) within an instant.
I’m still learning to love Cuban Coffee. It’s in a category of its own, shared only by its equally powerful and terrifying partner in crime, Sweet Tea.
You may be wondering why I’ve spent this entire post describing these two delicious beverages in such detail. I visualize both of these beverages as representations of my two-selves.
There’s the sweet tea self. She’s soft-tempered, level-headed, and patient. I’ve spent a long time getting to know this self, I feel comfortable with her. I know that she likes the outdoors, the sound of cicadas, and the smell of a dewy morning.
…Then there’s my second self. I’m just getting to know her.
What I know so far is that she is passionate and indecisive. She loves the heat of the sun on her skin, the ocean but not the sand, and salsa music while she’s sitting down.
I know these two selves are one, I know that. But I also know that there are parts of a person’s identity that sometimes lay forgotten or ignored, and I don’t want to be that person. I want to appreciate both parts of my cultural identity. I want to know how to make sweet tea AND café Cubano. I also may end up with Type 2 Diabetes by the end of this post.
If you’re curious as to how this perverse yet delicious beverage is brewed, take a looksie below at MokaBees’ fantastic ‘How To’ video on Café Cubano (because I’m too lazy to make my own):